Cancer and Exercise

Before starting any exercise program, discuss with your oncologist first.

Woman's Center for Wellness offers these classes and more!

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Woman’s offers several medical exercise programs targeted to cancer patients. Whether your focus is on building strength or reducing stress and fatigue, we have a plan for you at our Center for Wellness.

  • Fighting Cancer with Exercise: Exercise is not only safe and possible during cancer treatment, but it can improve how well you function physically and your overall quality of life.
  • Medical Exercise Program: Make movement your medicine. This unique program developed by the Center for Wellness offers specialized exercise programs based on individual medical needs and fitness levels
  • Yoga: For women with breast cancer, research shows those who practice yoga may also have less stress and fatigue and better quality of life. Yoga reduces cortisol, the body’s hormonal response to stress and has also been shown to improve sleep and reduce fatigue.
  • Nia: Neuromuscular Integrated Action (Nia®) is a complete body, mind and spirit fitness exercise that integrates healing, martial and dance art.
  • Tai Chi: This ancient exercise incorporates gentle movements and deep breathing. Tai chi helps reduce stress and anxiety. And it also helps increase flexibility and balance.
  • Lymphedema exercise classes coming soon!

Research indicates that physical activity may have the following beneficial effects in survivorship:

Weight gain

Both reduced physical activity and the side effects of cancer treatment can contribute to weight gain after a cancer diagnosis. In studies, weight gain after breast cancer diagnosis was linked to worse survival. Physical activity has been found to reduce both body mass index and body weight.

Quality of life

Physical activity may have beneficial effects on overall health-related quality of life and on specific quality-of-life issues, including body image/self-esteem, emotional well-being, sexuality, sleep disturbance, social functioning, anxiety, fatigue, and pain. Physical activity was found to reduce fatigue and depression and to improve physical functioning, social functioning, and mental health.

Recurrence, progression, and survival

Being physically active after a cancer diagnosis is linked to better cancer-specific outcomes for several cancer types, including breast cancer. In two separate studies the findings included:

  1. Women who exercised moderately (the equivalent of walking 3 to 5 hours per week at an average pace) after a breast cancer diagnosis had approximately 40% to 50% lower risks of breast cancer recurrence, death from breast cancer, and death from any cause compared with more sedentary women. The potential physical activity benefit with regard to death from breast cancer was most apparent in women with hormone receptor–positive tumors.
  2. Women who had breast cancer and who engaged in recreational physical activity roughly equivalent to walking at an average pace of 2 to 2.9 mph for 1 hour per week had a 35% to 49% lower risk of death from breast cancer compared with women who engaged in less physical activity.